After weeks of campaigning and news coverage, the 2019 general election concluded with a landslide victory for the conservative party. Although Brexit was the most pressing topic that was discussed, issues within the private rented sector (PRS) seemed to take centre stage more in this general election than it ever has before.
Alongside the Brexit negotiations and managing the economy, the government will also have to address the numerous housing issues that were highlighted throughout the campaign trail, which included the country’s supply and demand issues, no-fault evictions and affordability for tenants. How the new government responds to these issues could really affect both tenants and landlords. Below are a few key issues that will affect all parties in the PRS going forward:
Brexit is almost certainly going ahead
You cannot deny that Brexit was one of the main drivers for this general election – the conservative party ran their campaign with a heavy focus on getting Brexit resolved once and for all, and judging by the results, the general public were in full support of that. With the Brexit uncertainty finally (nearly) out of the way, people are finally in a position to make informed decisions about their future. This could potentially bring a lot of first-time buyers onto the market, which could be a good opportunity for landlords who are looking to offload some of their property portfolio. It’s doubtful the market will be flooded with first-time buyers in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, but there will be a number of investment buyers who will be looking for a good deal before the market gets too busy – so next year could be a good time for landlords to put their property on the market.
The government have started paying attention to ‘Generation Rent’
Tenants really made their voices heard during the most recent election and all parties recognised them as a key demographic to target in their campaigns. In their manifesto, the Conservatives pledged to end Section 21 (no fault) evictions and introduce transferrable rental deposits, which will allow tenants to transfer their deposit directly from one tenancy to another. Although there has been no talk about how the latter will be implemented, it has been suggested that the ban on Section 21 will be going ahead after the proposals were raised since the party was led by Theresa May. This particular proposal has proven to be extremely unpopular amongst landlords, with many believing that it will be an infringement on their rights. However, the current housing secretary James Brokenshire believes that scrapping section 21 will be fairer for both parties and will provide a ‘speedy redress’ for landlords who need to regain their properties for legitimate reasons.
Landlords will be given some breathing space
2019 was quite a big year for new legislation for landlords – we saw the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) bill, but the next few years could look a lot different. The government are going have their hands tied with Brexit negotiations until at least the end of January, and then they will have to go through the one-year transition period for the UK to leave the European Union. It’s unlikely that politicians will have the chance to focus heavily on other areas until around late 2021/early 2022. The only major regulation change landlords can expect is the reformation of Section 21, anything else will just be a ‘tidying-up’ of existing legislation.
Only time will tell if the government can actually deliver on their promises for the private rented sector. However, one thing that is certain is that we’re unlikely to see any major shake-ups in the PRS while the Brexit proceedings are happening.
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